Our Wellington and Manawatū campuses are open, Auckland remains closed at AL4. More information.

Janice WennMaori health specialist shows no signs of quitting after earning PhD at 74

One of the first graduates of Massey's Master of Nursing programme 24 years ago will be back on the stage again on Tuesday receiving a Doctorate of Philosophy in Maori studies.

Janice Wenn, 74, spent much of the past five years researching the views of kaumatua in Taranaki and the East Coast of the North Island to define the concept of Kaupapa Hauora Maori - the optimal health and wellbeing for Maori.

Mrs Wenn (Ngati Kahungungu ki Wairarapa), whose hapu are Ngai Moe and Ngati Hinewaka , interviewed people from the eight iwi of Taranaki and Ngati Kahungunu from Mahia in the North to Matakitaki in the South Wairarapa to produce a framework that can be used in the design and quality assessment of health services. The practical benefit will be the ability for health providers to better address priorities for improving Maori health.

Her supervisors were Professor Chris Cunningham, Director of Te Pumanawa Hauora, Massey's research centre for Maori health and development, and constitutional lawyer Moana Jackson.

Mrs Wenn has an extensive background in the health sector. At the time of graduation with her Master of Nursing from Massey in 1983 she was the Chief Nursing Officer of the Taranaki Hospital Board (later area health board). She then worked for Midcentral Health in Palmerston North from 1990 - 95 as assistant general manager for community health.

She moved to Masterton in 1995 to head the Maori studies unit at the community polytechnic and was head of faculty for Maori studies, Art and Social Services. Two years later she established a Maori provider in community health, Whaiora Whanui, for which she is currently a trustee. She also spent seven years as a board member of the Wairarapa District Health Board. Throw in a bit of consultancy work and in 2002 she started on her PhD, remaining at home in Masterton but visiting the Wellington campus when necessary.

Despite all that, she has no thoughts of taking it easy. ÒI'm not retiring; I'd die if I retired. I'm doing some post-doctoral research with a small grant from the Health Research Council and I'm also working with Maori health providers in the Wairarapa and in Taranaki.Ó

Large numbers of whanau and supporters of Mrs Wenn (nee Workman) plan to be in Wellington for her graduation. She will welcome them to a ceremony to honour Maori graduates at 2.30pm on Monday, then will graduate at the afternoon ceremony at 2.30pm the next day at the Michael Fowler Centre.

She is one of four PhDs among the 600 graduates at this year's Wellington campus graduation ceremonies.

Related articles

Record 26 new doctorates capped in November
Improving Mäori mental health
Nursing shortage heading for crisis